Slaves in the History of Islam 5

Slaves in the History of Islam 5

Miytham al-Tammar 1

Miytham al-Tammar (the date-seller), son of Yahya, was a slave purchased by Imam 'Ali. But very few people knew that he was a slave because 'Ali emancipated him and he became one of the closest friends of his ex-master. He is counted as one of his hawariyyun. It means disciple as in the twelve disciples of Jesus. Imam 'Ali had taught him the secret knowledge of Allah, and gave him insight into future events. He knew the details of death, of sufferings of future, which sometimes he described and people laughed at him; but the later events always proved him right.

When 'Ali purchased him, he was called Salim. 'Ali told him that he had heard from the Prophet that your father in Persia called you Miytham. Miytham was astonished to hear it as nobody in Arabia knew his original name. Then 'Ali told him to keep his original name; thus he became Miytham again, and adopted the agnomen, Abu Salim. (1)

Miytham was a very pious man. It is written that, ...he, may Allah have mercy upon him, was one of those who were very pious, and his skin had dried upon his body [because of fasting and continuous prayers).Abu Khalid al-Tammar says that once on a Friday they were sailing in a boat in Euphrates, when water became very stormy. Miytham looked up and told them to put anchor and secure the boat as the storm was to become more violent. Then he said that Mu'awiyah had died just then. The people noted down the date, which afterwards proved correct. (2)

Shaykh Kashshi narrates that one day Miytham al-Tammar was passing by a group from the tribe of Asad, when Habib bin Muzahir came there. They stood talking to each other. Habib said, It is as though I am looking at an old man (whose head is bald and who has a big stomach, and sells dates and water-melons) that he has been captured and his enemies have crucified him because of his love for and devotion to the family of the Prophet; then they have pierced his stomach. All the characteristics were those of Miytham.

Miytham replied that, I too am looking at a man (whose face is reddish) who will come to help the son of the Prophet and will be martyred and his head will be brought to Kufah. He meant Habib bin Muzahir. Then they went their separate ways. The people who heard this conversation said that they had not seen any one more liar than those two. Just then Rushayd al-Hujri (who also was amongst the closest friends of Imam 'Ali and was given the knowledge of future events) came there and asked whether they had seen Habib and Miytham.

The people repeated the conversation derisively. Rushayd said, May Allah have mercy upon Miytham! He forgot to tell that the man who would bring the head of that red-faced man' would get hundred dirham more than the others in reward.When Rushayd went away, the people said that he was bigger liar than those two.(3) Shortly afterwards all the prophecies were fulfilled exactly: Miytham was crucified, Habib was martyred in Karbala, and the man who brought Habib's head to Kufah was given hundred dirhams more.

Amirul mu'minin 'Ali had told Miytham that, You will be captured after me and they will crucify you, and will pierce you with a spear; on the third day blood will ooze out from your nose and mouth and your beard will become red with your own blood. You should wait for that hair-dye. They will crucify you at the door of 'Amr bin Hurayth with nine others; and your cross will be the shortest, but your honour in the presence of Allah will be the highest. Come with me; I will show you the tree upon which you are to be crucified. Then he showed Miytham that tree. (4)

Another tradition says that 'Ali bin Abi Talib asked Miytham, What will be your position when the bastard of Bani Umayyah [i.e., 'Ubaydullah bin Ziyad] will compel you to curse me and to abuse me? Miytham said, By Allah, I will never do so. 'Ali said, By Allah, then they will kill and crucify you. Miytham said that he would bear those tyrannies; and that such sufferings were nothing in the way of Allah. Then 'Ali gave him the good tiding: O Miytham you will be with me in the hereafter in my grade. (5)

After the martyrdom of 'Ali, Miytham used to go and pray near the tree. He used to say, May Allah bless thee, O tree; 1 have been created for thee, and thou art growing for me. Whenever he met 'Amr bin Hurayth, he would say to him, When I come into your neighbourhood, you should remember my right as a neighhour. (6)

In 60 AH Miytham went for 'umrah (the minor pilgrimage). In Medina, he visited the house of Umm Salamah, the Prophet's wife. When he introduced himself, Umm Salamah said, By Allah, many were the times when I heard the Holy Prophet mentioning and recommending you to 'Ali bin Abi Talib in the heart of night. Miytham learnt that Imam Husayn had gone outside Medina to one of his gardens. Miytham was in hurry so he told Umm Salamah to convey his greetings to Imam Husayn and tell him that very soon we will meet in the presence of Allah.

Continue in the next article: ( Slaves in the History of Islam 6 )



1. al-Mufid, Kitab al-Irshad, trans. I.K.A. Howard (London: Muhammadi Trust) pp. 243-244; and al-Kashshi's Rijal as quoted by Qummi, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 157.

2. Qummi, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 157.

3. Kashshi, Rijal, as quoted by Qummi, op. cit., vol. 1, pp. 143-4.

4. Qummi, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 157; al-Mufid, op. cit., p. 244.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.